What does it cost? From 49 cents to $21 per square foot, depending on the materials and type of construction. For a pro job, remember to factor in the cost of padding (about 25 cents to $1.50 per square foot) and installation (about 50 cents to $1 per square foot.
How to care for it? Vacuum with the rug-beater brush at least once a week to suck up dirt and dust that can dull the carpet and mat down the fibers. Every 12 to 18 months, have a pro give it a deep cleaning to remove embedded grime—and keep your warranty intact.
How long does it last? Warranties on wear, stains, and "texture retention" (the fibers' ability to maintain their shape) range from five years to lifetime, but most carpeting is replaced every 10 years or so.
DIY or hire a pro? Carpet installation is a specialized skill. With a pro, you're unlikely to see wrinkles or unraveling seams— and you can get a warranty on the work.